Day 13 – A few detours along the way to the Penis Museum

Reykjavik, Iceland

Yeah, you read that title right – Reykjavik is home to the Icelandic Phallological Museum or as it’s more commonly known – The Penis Museum.

Believe or not, this place is one of the “must sees” when in Reykjavik so, of course, like the tourist I am – I had to see it!

But first a couple of detours along the way…

Even though I hadn’t planned on doing laundry while I was here in Iceland (hence the 18 pairs of underwear and socks), the simple fact was my laundry bag was becoming cumbersome and I wasn’t sure how I’d be able to transport it back home.

Plus my jeans had that radiator dried feel to them which kinda sucks.

So off to the laundromat I went.  There is a cool little place down the road aptly called The Laundromat Cafe.

It is exactly what you think it is.  A cafe/restaurant/bar upstairs and a laundry room downstairs.  After getting coins and a little cup of laundry soap at the food counter I headed downstairs to try and figure out the system for this Icelandic laundry room.

After help from a fellow traveler who was also doing laundry and some more help from one of the waiters upstairs I finally figured out the contraption and my clothes were on their way to being blissfully clean.

I headed back upstairs and sat down to a late breakfast (11:30am) of a Croque Madame (ham, cheese and egg on a fresh baquette) and a Swiss Mocha.

By 1pm my laundry was all done and after dropping it back at the hostel I was finally on my way to the Penis Museum.

Along the way I stopped in some stores to purchase some gifts for my friends and souvenirs for myself.

And then I walked past an art gallery…

I’m not a huge artsy person and I’ve only been in a handful of art galleries in my life but after seeing some of the local artwork in the window display I wanted to go inside and take a closer look.

The art gallery, Art67, is a collaboration of 13 Icelandic women who jointly run the gallery displaying their own works.

After perusing some of the larger pieces upstairs and their 100,000+ ( about $1000+) krona price tags I found some reasonably priced gifts.

After talking to one of the friendly ladies working there, Birna, she led me downstairs to the smaller pieces of art.  One caught my eye so I turned the frame over to check out the price.

40,000 krowns, about $350… sigh…

I reluctantly put it back and went back upstairs to the counter where another lady was still wrapping my gifts.  After a couple of minutes, I said “Screw it!” and went back downstairs and picked up the art piece.

The fact of the matter is I know I’d regret it down the road if I didn’t buy it so I bought it.  Money comes and goes.  Art is forever!

The piece was done by a lady named Helga who wasn’t at the store.  Something about the abstract design and colors moved me and, like I said, I had to have it.  Here it is:

So, after dropping almost $500 at the art gallery, I was finally back on my way to the Penis Museum.

A few blocks later, I was there.

It’s a small, nondescript building.  In fact, if you weren’t specifically looking for it, you’d probably pass on by

I spent about half an hour there looking over the various specimens – everything from sperm whales to human.  Yes, they have a human specimen along with a framed waiver on the wall.

A couple of souvenirs later (I now own a penis key chain), I was heading back to the hostel.

I once again quickly dropped off my stuff before heading out for another world famous hot dog at the hot dog stand near the harbor.  For those of you counting – that was number six.

Later on in the night, around 8pm, I went for dinner at this little place down the street called Lækjarbrekka.  The restaurant is actually in a little house that was built in 1834.  The restaurant was bustling as I watched table after table walk through the front door.

I was looked after by Karen and while she was busy with other tables Hreinn the manager entertained me as well.

For dinner I started with their special appetizer taster menu.  Basically you get smaller versions of all their appetizers for 1890 kronas (about $15).  The plate consisted of smoked puffin, minke whale, wind dried fish, and the infamous fermented shark.


Appy tasting plate (left to right):  Hot smoked puffin with crowberries and seaweed crisp, Minke whale tataki, Wind dried fish with crunchy Icelandic seaweed and Fermented shark (in jar)

If you do a Google search for fermented shark you’ll come across such listings as “The worst thing I have ever had in my mouth” and “Fermented shark and black death”.

Gotta say, after trying it myself, the listings are pretty accurate.


Fermented Shark with a shot of Schnapps

First off, they serve it to you in a closed jar so the smell doesn’t escape.  Of course I had to get my nose in there and take a good whiff.  Yup, it’s definitely rotten shark.  Ick!

They also recommend you have it with a shot of schnapps to chase away the taste.  I did and it doesn’t.

Let’s just say my nasal passages were cleared and my eyes were still watering after 10 minutes.

So, there you have it – fermented shark checked off the list.

For my main course I had another Icelandic specialty – Grilled Horse Tenderloin (5600 krona, about $50).  It came out exactly the same as a steak.  Cooked medium rare and so tender to the touch.  It didn’t taste gamey at all and was complimented well by the bacon pomme anne, shallot confit, and pepper cream sauce.


Grilled horse tenderloin with bacon pomme anne, shallot confit and pepper cream sauce

I didn’t have dessert there because I’ve had a mission all day:  Have course eight!

If you read yesterday’s blog you’ll know I went to Sjávargrillið and had their 8 course meal.  Well, really I only had 7 courses because I didn’t have room for dessert.

So, tonight, after dinner I went by Sjávargrillið and sweet talked my way into having the missing eighth course.  Even though my server from last night wasn’t working, they took my word at it and presented the dessert course at no charge.

Of course, in line with the rest of the tasting menu, there was a pre-dessert before the dessert.

Here is course eight:


The pre-dessert:  Carrot Cake with apples, 5 spice and Chocolate Ice Cream


Finally!  Course 8!  Chocolate cake with raspberry sorbet, chocolate mouse, caramel crackers and mashed macaroons

And that was the day.  An amazing day at that!  Tomorrow is my last full day and night here in Iceland before I fly home on Wednesday afternoon.  I kind of have the day planned but I do know one thing for sure – there will be an epic meal at the end!

Icy Trip 2013, Trip Journal

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